Archive for April, 2019

Continue Praying

JESUS SPEAKING

     And he said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Please, lend me three loaves; ‘for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, but because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. So I say to you ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11: 5-10.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     In Middle Eastern culture, welcoming visitors in to your home meant providing for all of their needs. Guests were given food, shelter, and protection. Failure to do so was considered a great disgrace. In this parable, a tired and wearied traveler arrived at his friend’s home late in the evening. The host, lacking the proper sustenance, approached his neighbor, hoping to acquire some food. The sleeping man, irritated by the untimely appeal, denied his initial request. However, the neighbor’s persistence eventually paid off. In this parable, the request for food is a reference to prayer. The unrelenting neighbor symbolizes those who pray without ceasing; and the man who supplied the food represents God, who enjoys and rewards those who tirelessly continue in prayer.
     At the age of 23 an inquisitive youth from Gloucester, spied an advertisement in a Boston newspaper that read, “Wanted: young man as an understudy to a financial statistician. P.O. Box 1720.” He responded to the ad by way of letter; but he received no reply. He wrote a second letter, and then a third; still no reply. So he made his way down to the post office and requested the name of the owner of Box 1720; but the clerk refused. He then met with the Postmaster, but he too refused (claiming it was illegal to provide him with that information.) The young man remained determined; he arose early in the morning, hopped on the first train to Boston, and entered the post office. He stood patiently with his eyes fixed on box 1720. After quite some time, a man appeared; he opened the box, grabbed the mail and left. The young man followed him to his brokerage firm; he entered and asked to speak to the manager. He told the manager that he had written three letters, before going to the post office where he was refused any further information. The manager asked, “But how did you find out that I was the advertiser?” The youth replied, “I stood in the lobby of the post office for several hours, watching Box 1720. When the man came in and took the mail from the box, I followed him here.” The manager said, “Young man, you are just the kind of persistent fellow I want. You’re hired.”
     Similarly, God rewards those who are persistent in prayer. All too often, our prayers are erratic and inconsistent. Although we make our requests known to God, we frequently get discouraged when He doesn’t answer them immediately. In turn, many simply stop asking. If we have need of something, we must relentlessly make our requests known to God. We may not receive the blessing on the 1st day, the 10th day, or even the 100th day; but if we are persistent, it will come. We must never stop asking, never stop seeking, and never stop knocking. God is listening; and He is willing and able to give us the desires of our heart.
     “Lord Heavenly Father, hear our prayers. We stand at the door and knock; we will not relent until You bless us. May we remain persistent in our prayers; may we be graced with patience and the strength to endure. Transform our hearts and minds; provide for our needs; and fill us with the fullness of Your mercy and love. We adore You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.

A Difficult Question

JESUS SPEAKING

      “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both me and my father” (John 15: 22 – 24.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      Jesus Christ preached throughout Israel for nearly three years before being crucified. He preached in the cities; in the wilderness; in the temple; in homes and on street corners; passing the message along to every capable Israelite. He became so well known that he had to travel from place to place by boat; to avoid being thronged by the crowds. Yet, despite seeing the miracles and hearing God’s message of repentance and forgiveness, many rejected him. Others chose to avoid hearing him all together; willfully embracing ignorance. Still, voluntary ignorance is the same as complete rejection; and therefore, not an acceptable excuse. On the contrary, those who were never made aware of the message, for whatever reason, are not under condemnation.
      During my many years of evangelism, I have interacted with numerous skeptics, agnostics, and atheists, who have used a common question to challenge God’s perfect justice: “If you can’t get to heaven without accepting Jesus Christ; what about the child in Africa who dies without ever having heard the gospel? Are they going to go to hell?” The answer is no. God does not condemn the naive. Those who are ignorant are innocent. Yet those who have heard, “have no excuse for their sin.” Many today refuse to open a bible or even enter a church; believing that by not accepting or rejecting Jesus they will avoid condemnation. They are wrong; voluntary ignorance is the same as complete rejection.
To this very day, the Followers of Jesus Christ continue to preach the gospel. Some accept him; some deny him; still others simply refuse to investigate. God forgives those who are genuinely naïve but condemns the willfully ignorant. There are very few places on Earth where Christ’s message has yet to be heard. Perhaps some remote tribe in the Amazon hasn’t encountered the gospel yet; or maybe a young child living in India remains ignorant?
      Our God is righteous and Holy; He commits no evil or injustice. We can therefore discern from this scripture that the genuinely ignorant are not eternally condemned. Once again, His word has provided the answer to a difficult question. Dive into the bible and you will find every answer you seek. Meditate upon His precepts and He will use you to preach the gospel; to illuminate the uninformed, and to bring hope to the hopeless. Through you, many will come to know His goodness, His mercy, and His love.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, we recognize Your perfect justice and acknowledge Your goodness and righteousness. May we, as believers, be equipped to answer every question we are asked. Empower us through Your Holy Spirit; may we be bold; may we illuminate darkened minds and preach the gospel to the ignorant. May we be Your messengers in this place. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.” God bless all of you!

Absolute Forgiveness

JESUS SPEAKING

       “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17: 3-4.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       Those who desire God’s mercy must also be merciful; and those who yearn for His forgiveness must not withhold forgiveness from others. Hatred, anger, and resentment have no place in the heart of the believer; as unresolved bitterness creates division between God and His disciples. Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Everyone who truly seeks to follow the Lord, will also attempt to imitate Him; thus, forgiving those who repent without restriction or exception. God’s mercy is immeasurable; and in turn, those who practice unconditional forgiveness are wonderful examples of His limitless love.
       In 1956, five American missionaries flew into the jungles of Ecuador; seeking to make contact with a hostile and war-like tribe of Indians known as the Waodani. All five men were speared to death. Their families were devastated by the loss; in a single day, many wives were widowed, and a handful of children were orphaned. But did the remaining family members seek vengeance? Did they cry out for justice? No. Instead Elizabeth Elliot (who had lost her husband), and Rachael Saint (who had lost her brother), remained obedient to God; forgiving the tribesman unconditionally. Elizabeth and Rachael continued evangelizing the natives. The Waodani people eventually invited them into their community. One by one, the members of the tribe began committing their lives to Jesus Christ. The men who had perpetrated the murders expressed great joy in knowing that they had been forgiven. The women eventually formed lifelong friendships with the individuals who had killed their loved ones. This unconditional forgiveness has given birth to the Waodani Church; a church that is currently thriving. They have abandoned their spears and picked up their bibles; going so far as to evangelize the other neighboring tribes as well (at great personal risk to themselves.) This amazing work of God was only made possible because two women were willing to forgive without restriction.
       Forgiving others is not a suggestion, a recommendation, or a request; it is a command; a command that heals both the forgiver and those who are forgiven. Is there anyone you’re angry with? Has someone caused you great pain? Then you must forgive them. Search your heart and ask God to give you the courage, and the strength to let go of your resentments; to lay down your hostilities; to do away with your bitterness. In turn, God will give you peace…and your heart will be filled with joy, as you walk in fellowship with the almighty and everlasting Father.
       “Lord Heavenly Father, search our hearts and reveal our hidden resentments. Give us the strength and the courage to forgive without restriction. May we love as You have loved. May we forgive as You have forgiven. We cherish You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!

What God Values

JESUS SPEAKING

        Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to God” (Luke 16: 14-15.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        What the world considers valuable and what God considers valuable are often in direct opposition. Most esteem beauty, wealth, fame, power, and intellect above Godliness, compassion, love, humility, and genuine mercy. The Pharisees (religious leaders) hearts were wicked; they demonstrated extreme partiality toward the powerful, the wealthy, the affluent, and the well-educated. Jesus however, fellowshipped with repentant prostitutes and tax collectors. He reached out to the lame and befriended many outcasts. He also refrained from showing any form of ungodly partiality. Instead, he continually honored and esteemed only those things which God deemed worthy.
        In the Old Testament, we read of a time when it became necessary to anoint a new king to rule over the nation of Israel. The Lord commanded the prophet Samuel to travel to Bethlehem, where he was instructed to choose a king from among the Sons of Jesse. Upon arriving, Samuel laid eyes upon Eliab (one of the eldest sons); Eliab was mature, healthy, and strong. The prophet, being misled by worldly values, proclaimed, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him!” God replied saying, “Do not look at his appearance or his physical stature, because I have refused him, for the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” After God had rejected seven of Jesse’s eldest sons, it appeared there were none left. Samuel asked if all his Sons were present; Jesse replied, “Well there remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” When David, the smallest and weakest of Jesse’s sons appeared, God said, “Arise and anoint him, for this is the one.” In time it became clear why God chose David; he was wise and loved the Lord with his whole heart; his faith remained unshakable and his courage unfading.
        In all cultures, it’s common to show partiality toward those who are wealthy, good looking, and affluent; yet to overly esteem such attributes is to oppose God. The apostle James wrote, “For if there should come into your assembly a man with Gold rings [and also] a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or ‘Sit at my footstool,’ have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” Therefore, every true believer must avoid inappropriately valuing worldly things. With God’s help, we can be impartial; we can see through His eyes; we can become lovers of truth; men and women who adore kindness, cherish compassion, and embrace mercy.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, guide us and lead us into the paths of righteousness. Give us clean hearts, that we might avoid partiality and love what is truly good. May we turn away from worldly pursuits and walk in Your ways; may we love what You love; may we value what You value; and may we live as You have lived. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.” God bless all of you!

The Destination

JESUS SPEAKING

      And when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave a command to depart to the other side. Then a certain scribe came and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus spoke to him saying, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to rest his head” (Mathew 8: 18 – 20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      Jesus Christ was born as a human being and raised in the house of Mary and Joseph. Yet his true home was with God in heaven. He was a sojourner; a traveler, perpetually mindful of his eventual destination. With no earthly residence, every miracle, act of love, and profession of truth brought him one step closer to home. As he traveled, he sought to persuade others to join him on his journey toward the Kingdom of God. Through his faithful followers, this divine mission continues even to this very today.
      In the Old Testament, Moses led millions of Israelites out of slavery and bondage in Egypt. After passing through the Red Sea, they wandered in the desert for 40 years; roaming the wilderness; living in tents, with no stable place to call home. Yet God swore an oath to eventually provide them with a permanent dwelling place; a promise that kept them alive as they embraced a life of hardship. After many long years of sacrifice, God fulfilled His pledge; safely guiding them into the land of Israel.
     Similarly, Jesus Christ leads many out of bondage to sin. In turn, they become travelers; reliant upon God’s provision. As believers, they begin clinging to the promise that they will one day enter His permanent dwelling place. During our journey toward the Kingdom of God, we must embrace a life of sacrifice, humility, and service. By denying our love for this world, we can lay hold of the world to come. The road to heaven is long and the way is hard; but the destination is more wonderful than anything we could ever imagine.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, may we cling Your promises. May we deny our own desires and embrace sacrifice. Strengthen us as we continue journeying toward Your kingdom; make us ever mindful that we are merely travelers heading home. May we always reach out to the lost and persuade them to join us on our journey. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.


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